All parents want their children to lead happy, healthy lives. Having a child who identifies as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, or Queer doesn’t change that. However, it can lead to a lot of questions for parents, especially when their child first comes out. You may not have ever met someone who is out and identifies as LGBTQ, or you may not know much about the community at all. Here are just a couple of the many resources that are available to you to help you better understand and support your child.
First, know that the coming out process is not always linear, and it definitely isn’t easy. When your child comes out to you they are probably afraid of what you might say or how you might react. The best thing you can do is tell them that you love and support them no matter what, and that nothing will change that. They are looking for reassurance after telling you about a huge part of their life. Acknowledge that they made a huge disclosure to you, and that you know it takes a lot of strength to do that.
Offer your child options. What does that even mean? That could mean:
- Offering to let them just talk about how they are feeling.
- Offering to let them just stop talking. After coming out, it can be helpful to give your child (and yourself) time to process.
- Give them the option to talk to a professional*. Sometimes the lead up to coming out to a parent can be incredibly stressful and speaking with someone can help.
- *This comes with a caveat. The last thing you want to do is insinuate that there is something ‘wrong’ with your child. Make sure that if you offer this as an option, you let them know you know they don’t need ‘fixing’.
- Offering to assist them in their coming out process. You may be the first person they’ve told and figuring out how to tell others can be difficult. If they say they don’t need help, though, it’s not your place to come out for them to the other people in their lives.
After the initial coming out, your child will need a lot of support. The greatest thing you can do for them is to listen to what they have to say and support the needs that they communicate to them. For more information on learning about the LGBTQ community, you can check out our 101 page!